- - Sunday, May 8, 2011


Hearing set on Palin stalking

ANCHORAGE | A court magistrate is set to consider a request by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to extend a restraining order against a 19-year-old Pennsylvania man accused of stalking her.

At Monday’s hearing, a magistrate in Anchorage will consider extending the order against Shawn Christy of McAdoo by six months.

Mrs. Palin, her father, Chuck Heath, and her friend Kristan Cole also have been seeking long-term protective orders against Mr. Christy’s parents, Craig and Karen Christy.

Craig Christy is accused of barraging Mrs. Palin’s parents with harassing telephone messages, including 26 in one day, and contacting Ms. Cole’s children on Facebook. Ms. Cole’s request for a protective order against Karen Christy was denied last month.


Shuttle launch faces another delay

CAPE CANAVERAL | The next-to-last space shuttle flight has been delayed again, this time to at least the middle of May for extra electrical tests.

Mission managers decided Friday that Endeavour would blast off no earlier than May 16.

The space station delivery mission led by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ astronaut husband has been on hold for a week. A heater malfunction halted the countdown April 29, and the trouble was traced to a switch box in Endeavour’s engine compartment. The box was removed, and this week engineers discovered a blown circuit inside.

NASA spokeswoman Candrea Thomas said testing will be conducted throughout the weekend to find out whether the circuitry problem was in the old box or somewhere in the external wiring that’s still in the shuttle. A new unit was installed Wednesday.


Korean study suggests autism underdiagnosed

CHICAGO | A study in South Korea suggests about one in 38 children have traits of autism, higher than a previous U.S. estimate of one in 100.

By casting a wider net and looking closely at mainstream children, the researchers expected to find a higher rate of autism characteristics. But they were surprised at how high the rate was. They don’t think South Korea has more children with autism than the United States, but instead that autism often goes undiagnosed in many nations.

U.S. estimates are based on education and medical records, not the more time-consuming survey conducted in South Korea.

Two-thirds of the children with autism traits in the study were in the mainstream school population, hadn’t been diagnosed before and weren’t getting any special services. Many of those undiagnosed children likely have mild social impairments rather than more severe autism.

“It doesn’t mean all of a sudden there are more new children with [autism spectrum disorders],” said co-author Dr. Young-Shin Kim of the Yale Child Study Center. “They have been there all along but were not counted in previous prevalence studies.”


Commuter train crashes; 34 hurt

HOBOKEN | A commuter train from New York pulling into a station for its final stop crashed into the bumpers at the end of the tracks Sunday morning, injuring 34 people, shutting down service and putting Monday morning’s commute in jeopardy.

None of the injuries in the PATH train’s 8:30 a.m. crash was considered life-threatening, though several victims were taken away on stretchers or put into neck braces as a precaution, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said.

The injured, who sustained mostly cuts and bruises, were taken to three hospitals for treatment, and most, if not all, were expected to be released later in the day. The cause of the crash remained under investigation, but city police said it appeared that a mechanical failure was to blame.

Port Authority and city officials said crews would be working through the night to make repairs at the station in Hoboken, just across the Hudson River from New York City. It was hoped that one of the three tracks would be reopened by Sunday night and that a second would be ready for the Monday morning commute, but it was unknown when the remaining track might reopen.


Anti-arson camera catches owner’s wife

MEEKER | Authorities say a central Oklahoma man hid a camera in a backyard grill to catch whoever set fires on his property and unexpectedly captured images of his wife starting a blaze.

Sharlet Renea Flick, 47, of Meeker has been charged with third-degree arson and endangering human life for a fire set to a shed and trailer last month. Pottawatomie County sheriff’s officials said she was not in custody Sunday and it wasn’t clear whether she had an attorney.

Court records indicate that images the hidden camera captured April 7 show Mrs. Flick walking to a well house. Trees around the well house light up from a fire a short time later.

Authorities say up to 11 fires occurred on the Flick property, most when the county was under a burn ban.


Memphis braces for Mississippi flood

MEMPHIS | Tourists gathered along Beale Street and gawkers snapped photos of the rising Mississippi, even as more residents were told Sunday to flee their homes and the river’s crest edged toward the city, threatening to soak greater pockets of the city.

Officials went door to door to warn about 240 people to get out before the river reaches its expected peak Tuesday. In all, residents in more than 1,300 homes have been told to go, and some 370 people were staying in shelters.

The Mississippi spared Kentucky and northwest Tennessee any catastrophic flooding. No deaths have been reported there, but some low-lying towns and farmland along the banks of the big river have been inundated with water. Tension is rising farther south in the Mississippi Delta and Louisiana, with the river’s crest continuing a lazy pace, leaving behind what could be a slow-developing disaster.


Injunction sought over state immigration law

SALT LAKE CITY | Two civil rights groups asked a federal judge Friday to stop a Utah immigration law from taking effect next week, saying it would create a police state and violate constitutional rights to due process.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center sought the injunction in federal court in Salt Lake City seeking to delay the law, which is modeled on Arizona’s enforcement measure.

Because the law would require people to prove their citizenship when arrested for serious crimes, it shouldn’t be implemented before a judge can rule on a lawsuit filed earlier this week by the two groups, said Karen Tumlin, the law center’s managing attorney.

The groups argue their lawsuit is likely to succeed because the enforcement law is similar to an Arizona law that is also before the courts.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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